A Letterkenny native is bringing Gaelic games into the curriculum of a Scottish secondary school for the first time.
The Gaelic football programme was adapted at Broughton High School in Edinburgh in February of this year by teacher, Jonathan Foley. The plan was spearheaded by Foley, from Gortlee, in a bid to promote Gaelic football outside of Ireland.
A group of Scottish pupils, who had been ejected for behavioural reasons from other such educational programmes, were taken under Foley’s wing for his innovative project, instead of being sent out to detentions. The St Eunan’s clubman gave up his free in the school timetable to run the initiative.
The programme involves students attending a weekly one-hour class where they learn about the GAA as a whole as well an partaking in active games and training session. From the socio-political foundations it was built on right up to how the modern day club and inter-county championships operate.
Pupils also carry out tasks on the tragedies of the game such as the Bloody Sunday atrocity of 1920 as well as being enlightened to the humorous linguistics of Michael O’Muireartaigh or ‘Effin’ Eddie Moroney, the famed Tipperary amateur commentator made famous on YouTube.
The students are soon to do a whole-school presentation on what they have learned in the hope it will encourage their peers to take an interest and start promoting the game further.
The students are being linked into Edinburgh’s sole GAA club, Dunedin Connolly’s, as possible players to join the youth development programme that is run by former Waterford inter-county player and professional football coach Niall Considine. Foley himself is also working as Dunedin Connolly’s PRO.
“There has been a number of proud moments since introducing this programme,” he said. “It started out with seeing the kids learn how to develop the skills of a game that was completely alien to them.
“What’s made it better since is when I hear them now discussing things like how teams are doing in the NFL or the MacRory but my personal favourite was when one lad brought up the conversation to me about a certain Kevin Cassidy score against Kildare at Croke Park last summer.”